#TheList vet Dr Zahra Tahaneem Rafiq, born circa 1990, now of Wallington, Surrey and previously of Merseyside – took two newborn French bulldog puppies from their owners; one of puppies died
Dr Zara Rafiq was fired after she took a French bulldog puppy she was meant to be delivering.
Rafiq took the pup home with her after joking to a colleague that she planned to do it. The newborn dog died three days later at Rafiq’s home, which she admitted despite earlier saying it had faded in her car.
Rafiq had delivered the litter of six dogs, each worth up to £2,000, by Caesarian.
Instead of leaving them to recover with their mum Lila, she and a colleague, Oscar Perez Maillo, both took a puppy home with them.
The second dog was later returned still alive after another worker with VetsNow raised concerns.
Rafiq was fired by VetsNow in Huyton, Merseyside, and a misconduct hearing by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons found her to be ‘dishonest’. However, she was cleared to practise again after six months.
‘I’m fuming,’ owner Safinah Mhagrh told the Daily Record. ‘That vet stole my puppy. It was a terrible, heartless thing to do. She should not be allowed to practise.’
Safinah had taken her three-year-old French bulldog Lila to surgery after she went into labour in December 2017.
‘The first one was coming out legs first and got stuck. I thought Lila was going to die,’ she said. She was told to go home while vets operated.
When she came back, she was told there had been a litter of four but the stuck one hadn’t survived. Another of the puppies then died as it was too weak, but Lila bonded with the remaining two.
Ms Mhagrh said she had contacted police but the case hadn’t been taken further. A hearing heard Rafiq was remorseful and not motivated by financial gain.
Panel chair Ian Arundel said: ‘The committee concluded Dr Rafiq was very unlikely to pose a risk to animals in future.’
VetsNow refunded the £200 cost for the Caesarian.
Dr Laura Playforth, head of veterinary standards at Vets Now said: ‘We are extremely sorry about what happened, especially to our client and their pets.
‘We are very clear on our position here – these individuals will not work with us again.
‘I want to reassure pet owners that this is an isolated incident. We have almost 600 vets and vet nurses working for us up and down the country, working tirelessly to help animals in their greatest time of need. In my 20 years as a vet, I’ve never seen anything like this case.’